Why you should eat your beans, nuts and tofu: Eating a diet high in plant protein cuts the risk of death, study suggests
- Japanese researchers followed the diets of 70,696 people for 18 years
- Those who got more protein from plants than meat lived longer
- High plant protein diets were also linked to better overall health for longer
- People who at red meat were not at a higher risk of death – but switching to more plant protein extended their lives and improved their health
Switching to a high-protein vegetarian diet could help you live longer and stay healthier into your twilight years, new research suggests.
Scientists at Japan‘s Center for Public Health Sciences followed 70,696 Japanese adults for nearly 20 years and found that those who got most of their dietary protein from plant foods had a lower risk of dying of any cause.
Western diets tend to be high in red meat and processed foods, and Westerners die of high rates of heart disease and obesity-linked diseases.
The new study’s authors suggest that swapping steak out in favor of high-protein plant-foods like tofu,beans, tempeh, edamame and quinoa could actually cut your risk of death.
High protein diets have been shown to encourage weight loss, but meats can raise heart disease risks. New research suggests switching to plant protein cuts the risk of death
In the last several years, high protein diets have gained popularity because they can help curb appetite by making you feel full and can lead to quite quick weight loss.
Similar to the keto diet hailed by the likes of Kim Kardashian West and LeBron James, high protein diets help you shed water water weight and trigger ketosis, a physical state in which the body uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
It certainly works for many people – but doctors and nutritionists worry that it might not be a sustainable or healthy way to eat, long-term.
For one, eating so much protein and so few carbohydrates may lead to nutritional deficits.
Especially in the US, the most obvious high-protein foods are meats – particularly red meat.
But studies suggest that meat protein may be harmful to our health in other ways.
Red and processed meats contain saturated fats that build up in the blood vessels, narrowing them and stressing heart and cardiovascular system.
So, while a high protein diet may be good for weight loss and muscle development, it could harm your heart if meat is the main source of that protein.
But the long-term consequences of these diets compared to others aren’t well understood.
In Japan, foods like tofu and beans rare more common sources of protein than in the US and other Western nations.
So scientists in Japan studied the long-term differences death risks for people who eat a lot of plant protein and those who get more of the nutrient from plant-based foods.
For an average of 20 years, they followed their sample of over 70,500 people.
They kept tabs on what diseases the group developed and died of over those two decades.
Although those who ate diets high in animal protein were not at a greater than average risk of dying, people who at more plant protein were at a substantially lower than average risk of death.
As processed and red meats are thought to be the most unhealthy, the research team then analyzed how people’s death risks might shift if they switched from animal to plant proteins.
Switching from either red or processed meats to vegetable, fruit and grain proteins was linked to lower risks of dying from cancer, specifically, as well as death from any cause.
Moving away from red meat proteins stemmed people’s risks if dying from heart disease, too, in addition to reducing overall and cancer-related mortality.